Revised bid submitted for flats on part of Bugsy’s bowling centre site in Cliftonville

The application is for an unused part of the Bugsy's centre

Revised plans for 8 two-bedroom apartments and 2 three-bedroom apartments at part of the Bugsy’s Bowling Centre in Cliftonville have been submitted to Thanet council.

The plans also include two commercial, business and service units at ground floor following demolition of part of the existing bowling alley between Cliftonville Court and No. 64 Edgar Road.

The application follows a similar proposal, submitted but subsequently withdrawn in July 2020.

The applicants are G E Bowra Group Ltd  in association with Anthony Swaine Architectural Ltd.

The revised scheme proposes 10 apartments rather than the originally submitted 15 apartments later revised to 13 apartments.

Part of the building associated with the existing Bugsy’s bowling alley will be demolished but the ten-pin bowling facility will remain, largely, unaffected.

The unused area

A five-storey building will be constructed and this will have commercial/business/leisure use space available on the ground floor.

The site is alongside the bowling alley, Olympia café and amusement arcade,

The centre once housed twelve 10- pin bowling lanes in the area being proposed for flats. Due to a reduction in demand these lanes became redundant several years ago and were removed. The area was then used for snooker and American pool. In 2009 due to falling demand the number of tables was reduced. They have now been disposed of altogether.

A planning document says: “The owners have undertaken a marketing exercise for this redundant area of the Bowling Alley. There was interest shown in the potential for smaller self-contained units for D2 (leisure) use on this site.

Proposed site from the North East

“Whilst the potential for providing smaller D2 use units was established in principle, this is only likely to be economically viable if constructed as part of a larger housing development. This is due to the infrastructure and management costs of establishing smaller D2 units on the existing site. These costs could be met by constructing apartments for the market on the site.”

The building sits in the Clifftop Conservation Area and the plan is to create a building sympathetic to the 1960’s design of Cliftonville Court. It sits close to the former Frank’s nightclub – now home to Rendezvous and Faith in Strangers.

A communal play area is proposed to the rear of the development.

The application says: “The proposal will provide much needed additional accommodation in the area and, together with the other recent proposals for Cliftonville Court, will add significant townscape value to both the site and its surroundings.

“The inclusion of 2 D2 leisure use units at ground floor level will ensure the development is compatible both in function (non-residential) and visually to the ground floor of the adjacent Cliftonville Court, adding continuity to the street scene at the North end of Edgar Road.

I”n making this application, it is considered that the proposed design addresses the statutory requirement to pay special attention to the desirability of preserving or enhancing the character or appearance of the conservation area.”

A decision on the application is yet to be made. Find it on Thanet council’s planning portal. Reference F/TH/20/1726

A rich history

The 1960s cluster of buildings were created on the site of the grand Cliftonville Hotel. The main hotel building was six storeys, including a basement storey and an attic storey. The area behind the hotel, sandwiched between Dalby Square and Edgar Road, was used as gardens. At the front, facing the sea, a grand covered terrace spilled out onto the street.

The hotel had enjoyed great success from its opening in 1868 up until the 1920s.

In 1929, it was no longer as popular and the council considered buying it for municipal offices. The hotel’s popularity diminished further during the Depression and the building was requisitioned during the Second World War.

At the end of the war the hotel reopened but to little success. It was sold to a new owner and turned into flats, though it was still not profitable.

All change after fire

After a fire in 1952, the building was demolished and the site used as a car park until 1961.

In November 1961 plans were announced for an eight-storey building on the site, including a new hotel, 40 flats, a cafe, filling station, car park and bowling alley. What was actually built and opened in 1964 was more modest than the early plans, with 12 flats. The bowling alley, Franks pub/nightclub, car park and filling station were also built.

The filling station became a cafe and amusement arcade in the 1980s and the nightclub closed in 2008/09.

The bowling centre, Bugsy’s, will continue to trade and is run by a Thanet family.


  1. Great stuff. We need more housing to keep purchase and rental prices down, and if more retail/leisure units are added on the ground floor that’s great for the buzz of the area too.

  2. Is the photo (proposed site from north east) one used by the developer? As it bears no resemblance to todays street scene

    • It’s from the planning documents. A few of the pictures were out of date as I imagine they have been transferred from the previous application

      • Thank you, i just had a look at the application and as you say looks as though its a bit of a cut and paste. Zero provision for car parking (part of the justification is that people ignore the restrictions in Dalby Square which works as there is no enforcement by TDC). And as yet no drawings available to view.

    • I remember it as the starlight but I moved to Manchester in 1984 what was the night club called in ramsgate down the seafront o the corner I won. Dancing competition and a hoilday to Spain I’m sure it was called Nero can’t remember lol x

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